Colenso’s was prominent clothing store in IM’s downtown

Menominee Range Memories

This postcard view, probably taken in the 1970s, shows the east and west sides of the 400 block of South Stephenson Avenue in Iron Mountain, facing north: 403-405, S.S. Kresge Co. Variety Store; 407, Kresge-Khoury Building, Joey Jaff’s Avenue Bar (Joseph Jafolla); 411, Ace Walgreen Agency Drugs, (Don J. Nemeth and Marie H. Nemeth). On the west side of the street were: 400, Wright’s Men’s Wear (William J. Wright and Laura L. Wright); 408, Kushner’s (David Kushner and Eleanor Kushner), children’s clothing, and Pix Shoe Store (Emmabelle Retherford, manager); Colenso’s Inc. (John R. Colenso, Irving C. Hoffman), department store. (William J. Cummings)

IRON MOUNTAIN — The 53rd installment of Menominee Range Memories, a series of articles by William J. Cummings, Menominee Range Historical Foundation historian, now available on the Dickinson County Library’s website, is titled “Downtown Iron Mountain – 400-430 South Stephenson Avenue.”

History of 416: In 1978 it housed Superior Reporting Service, a court reporting service owned by Daniel H. Lori, as well as Superior Title & Abstract, with Daniel H. Lori serving as the secretary-treasurer-manager. The firm provided abstracts of title and lawyer’s title insurance. In 1979, Superior Title & Abstract was at 615 S. Stephenson Ave.

There were no further business listings at this site in the city directories.

History of 424 (originally 414): The address for this business site, located at the south end of the west side of the 400 block of South Stephenson Avenue, was originally 414, but with the advent of new businesses over the years was changed to 424 in the 1973 city directory listing.

Brothers Max Dworsky and Paul Dworsky were building their new store in Iron Mountain when John Rowland Colenso and Margaret Edla “Peg” Colenso paid a visit while on vacation in June 1948. John Colenso had corresponded with the Dworsky brothers earlier in the year regarding the purchase of their men’s clothing business.

Work on the Dworsky brothers’ new building in June had not progressed beyond the basement walls, and Stephenson Avenue was, in Peg’s words, “just a huge deep ditch with no light standards and the only sidewalk was on the east side of the street.” At that time a new four-lane highway was under construction through the city.

During their stay, the Colensos were surprised to find friends who had located in Iron Mountain, serving as store managers of S.S. Kresge Company, the A & P grocery store, the J.C. Penney Company and the Montgomery Ward Company. These friends and other businessmen in the area urged them to locate in Iron Mountain, even though John had signed a contract with Foley Brothers Department Store in Houston, Texas.

By September 1948, the Colensos had made the decision to buy the business, and Colenso’s became one of the premiere clothing stores in Iron Mountain and the surrounding area.

In 1961, Colenso’s Inc. (John R. Colenso, president; Irving C. Hoffman, secretary-treasurer) advertised “Quality Clothing for the Entire Family.”

John Rowland Colenso died April 28, 1968, at the age of 55. By 1969, Irving C. Hoffman was listed as president of Colenso’s Inc.

One-third interest of Colenso’s Inc., was eventually held by Irving C. Hoffman. Due to health issues, Hoffman wanted to sell his share, and C. Todd Colenso, the oldest son of John and Margaret, returned to Iron Mountain in July 1975 to assist in running the store. In the 1976, city directory listed C. Todd Colenso as president of Colenso’s Inc. The store advertised “Quality Clothing for Men, Young Men, Better Ladies, Half-Sizes, Pre-Teens, Juniors and Moderate Missy’s” in the city directory.

Daughter Sherry (Colenso) Dillard worked at the store until her husband’s employment ended with the closing of the Groveland Mine and they moved to Tucson, Arizona. Youngest son Kim Colenso also worked at the store, but was forced to move to a drier climate for health reasons in the late 1970s.

With the opening of the Midtown Mall in Iron Mountain and the Birchwood Mall in Kingsford, business waned and Colenso’s Inc. closed its doors permanently on Jan. 31, 1981. At this time Margaret E. Colenso was listed as chairman of the board and C. Todd Colenso as president.

By 1990, the Mid-Peninsula Library Cooperative was located in the basement, with Gary Silver as director. The cooperative remained there through 1996, when it built a new facility on Pyle Drive in Kingsford.

In 1997, the building was vacant but in 1998 Michael’s Fine Jewelry, owner Michael Frankini, occupied this site. In the combined 1998/1999 city directory, Cochrane Compressor Company, industrial equipment, John Zornen, owner, was listed here.

History of 426: By 1973, Mrs. Jeanette Sauter sold yarn and gifts at The Brass Knocker. In 1974, the owners were listed as Joseph A. and Jeanette M. Sauter, and the business continued at this location through 1978.

In 1979, the site was listed as vacant but in 1980 Melissa’s, an infants’ and children’s wear store, was in business here, owned by Therese Porta. The site was again vacant in 1981 and there was no other listing for Melissa’s.

By 1985, Raymond Beauchamp operated Beauchamp’s Camera Corner Inc. at 426 S. Stephenson Ave., as well as the A B C Phone Store, selling and servicing telephones. From 1994 to 1996, Tabb Lonergan was listed as the general manager.

In 1994, the Upper Michigan Rainbow Room operated at the same location, selling apparel and souvenirs.

In 1997, no business was listed at this address. Beginning in 1998, Jade Financial Service Inc., Dennis G. Engquist, president, had an office on the second floor and was still there in 2000.

Michael’s Fine Jewelry, owned by Michael Frankini, was at this location briefly in 1998-1999. By 1999, Wickert Floral, owned by Gregg Johnson and managed by Julie Olson, began operations here.

By 2010, Carlson Wagonlit Travel (Linda Van Beek, president) operated here.

History of 430: There was no separate listing for this address until 1985, when Photo 1, a one-hour photo processing business owned by Frank E. and Alice M. Smith II and managed by Frank E. Smith III, began operations here. In 1989, Frank E. Smith III was listed as owner-manager of Photo 1. The business included one-hour photo processing, enlargements, sales of film, cameras and accessories and was an outlet service for black-and-white slides and movies. Photo 1 was still in operation in 2000. In 1999 and 2000, Kis Photo was also located at this site.

By 2010, UES Computers Inc. was doing business here.

For more local history, go to https://www.dcl-lib.org/local-history.


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